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Petitioning on to the ballot

June 12, 2010

Yesterday the Colorado Secretary of State’s office confirmed that Joe G “The Stealth Candidate” for governor had failed to collect enough valid signatures to get on the GOP primary ballot for governor.

To bypass the assembly process and petition on the ballot, a candidate needs a certain number of signatures in each district relevant to the position. In Jane’s case, the numbers are 1500 signatures in each of the seven congressional districts for a minimum of 10,500 signatures; she turned in something over 35,000. The results reported by the Secretary of State’s office showed a total of 20,133 valid signatures for a rate of about 57%. I understand that she used paid signature-gatherers augmented by volunteer supporters to succeed.

In Joe’s case, the “synthetic campaign” relied on the Silver Bullet LLC to collect his petitions, as I wrote on May 31; in May he added Kennedy Enterprises of Colorado Springs. He turned in only 18,746 signatures and failed to meet the 10,500 signature threshold. While I don’t have the exact number of valid signatures, the ratio based on that minimum means at best at 56% validity rate.

The only requirement to sign such a petition besides district of residence is that the signer must be a registered voter of the party. Clearly, paid signature-gatherers who are paid by the signature or by the hour (under the new law) have it in their interest to get numbers of signatures–quantity over quality. The constitutional provision authorizing the initiative process is meant to show that a candidate has support throughout the state.

A detailed financial analysis of Joe G’s campaign finance filings shows that throughout the two reporting periods–roughly April and May–the campaign spent a total of $83,243.75 for petition services. Silver Bullet got $49,061.75 of that money; Kennedy Enterprises got $34,182. That works out to at least $7.92 per signature–assuming the total of valid signatures came somewhat close to the required minimum. I am told that paid gatherers had been paid a flat rate of $2.50 per signature but that under the new law (HB1326) requiring gatherers to be paid by the hour, the rate has approached $10 per signature. These numbers tend to bear that out.

Put another way, the money spent for petitions accounted for almost half ( 48%) of the $175,000 Joe G’s campaign spent up to the 1 June filing.

Still, the requirements for petitioning onto the ballot are less stringent than for citizen-initiated petitions. Colorado House Bill 1326 (2009), passed with bipartisan support, restricts these as well, making it harder for citizens to actually use their Colorado constitutional right. It is quite ironic that the initiative, originally a Progressive reform, has now been limited by the Democratic legislature claiming to be Progressives and aided by Republicans such as Minority Leader Josh Penry.

  1. donincolorado permalink
    June 13, 2010 5:41 am

    Those who look at being elected as a means to gain personal power above serving the People are happy to restrict our ability in the process. Last legislative session was an eye opener for many of us in that several of our elected officials exposed themselves as not being true servants of the People.

    Too many of our politicians in Denver and in our counties have formed blocks to build their individual power and it has been very effective over the years. It’s worked because no one challenged them. No one challenged them because we were asleep.

    The difference now is the People have entered the process with the expressed intent to take back the power we have given away to politicians over the years. We trusted them to do the right things. That was our mistake.

    We are lucky in Colorado to have many elected officials who are true servants of the People and the People will reward them. My only regret here is we are late in giving support to those that tried to hold the line for the many years while we slept.

    For officials in those in the old blocks of personal power a warning; you will not be rewarded and you will lose your power. You have time to reevaluate your positions and remember the reason many of you entered politics in the first place but, the time to do this is short. Join those that are true public servants. Join the People.

  2. June 13, 2010 10:20 am

    Well said, Don!


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